Missy Gators miss tournament title
Published 1:04 am Saturday, February 22, 2014
Pearl— Throughout the course of Friday’s Division 4-5A girls championship game, the Vicksburg Missy Gators missed a slew of layups. At the time, when the game was close, they seemed regrettable but largely insignificant. By the end, when the score was still close, they loomed a lot larger.
The dozen or so missed layups by the Missy Gators haunted them down the stretch, when Pearl managed to stay a step in front to win 63-58 and claim the division tournament title on its home floor. LaQuandaline Wright scored eight of her team-high 21 points in the last two minutes, after Vicksburg clawed its way back from a pair of eight-point deficits to get within a single basket.
“I think at certain times they were just pushing so hard they almost outran themselves. But you couldn’t ask for any better effort or desire,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said. “But we still aren’t losers. The scoreboard might be, but they’re winners because look where they’ve come.”
Adrianna Horne added 17 points for Pearl (15-12), which will host Neshoba Central in a Class 5A North State satellite round game on Monday.
Vicksburg (9-15) will play at Canton Monday night. Hartzog stressed the fact the Missy Gators are still standing and seemingly playing some of their best basketball of the season, rather than dwelling on a tough loss in the tournament final.
The Missy Gators entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. They dominated top-seeded Lanier in the semifinals, then took second-seeded Pearl to the wire after losing by double digits to the Lady Pirates twice in the regular season.
“The effort was there, and they’ve got to realize a play here or a play there would have made a difference. The two times we played them in the regular season, they beat us by 21 points, and look at the game today. So I feel like we’ve improved. And that’s what you want to do at this point in time,” Hartzog said. “We’re still alive.”
Neither team ever led by more than eight points. Pearl ended the third quarter with a 9-0 run to go up 42-34, but Vicksburg came right back to tie it with a 10-0 run. Pearl, however, held the Missy Gators without a field goal for nearly three minutes — VHS did go 8-for-8 from the foul line in that span — to ease back in front.
Then Wright got hot. She scored on three layups in a 45-second span to put Pearl up 59-52 with a minute left. Vicksburg got within three points, at 59-56 on a basket by Karry Callahan with 27 seconds to go, but that was as close as it got.
Tenazhia Hinkson hit two free throws to make it 61-56. With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, Callahan missed a layup and put back her own rebound to get it back to a three-point game, but the Lady Pirates broke the press and Wright capped off the win with one last layup as time expired.
Callahan finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds for Vicksburg, Keiyana Gaskin scored 12 points, and Kailin Young had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We didn’t run out of gas, because they were still hustling at the end. We just got a little uneasy there for a couple of possessions, and it hurt us,” Hartzog said. “No one shot lost it for us. Everybody tries to think of the shots at the end, but something in the first quarter has just as much impact. It’s just that you remember that at the end.”